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Californian-based tech giant quietly bought Placebase, a company that created PushPin, a maps API. Apparently, Apple wants to close up the gap between it and Google. And it seems like the folks at Apple are trying to launch a new mapping service soon by making use of Pushpin to compete with map leader – Google Maps. What’s more is that Jaron Waldman, founder and CEO of Placebase is a member of Apple Geo Team. Apple Geo Team? Is that the “Apple Maps” team? Oh yes, it is and they are working on it “secretly”. It has been touted that Jaron might be leading the geocoding and geolocation features on apps like iPhoto and the iPhone’s “find my phone” feature.

Placebase’s Pushpin is the leading platform for the development of professional web applications in mapping, business geographics, and location-based services. The former Los Angeles-based startup is used by customers in real estate, financial services, navigation and fleet tracking and other sectors to deliver deeply customized, highly fluid maps and location-related content via the web. Placebase also builds customer-specific map tilesets via its specialized render farm for fluidly usable, beautifully legible draggable maps that work without plugins in any web browser.

Placebase was acquired for an undisclosed fee and the deal was announced, probably it’s because the price was simply too small. Another reason could be that Apple wanted to keep it a “secret”, as they work on their new mapping service to compete with the search engine leader.

So why did they purchase Placebase? With the demand on maps and geo-location on the rise, Apple was clever enough to believe that mapping technology is a pretty crucial component in modern operating systems and smartphones. Besides that, Placebase didn’t cost Apple a bomb. Unlike Nokia’s acquisition of Navteq in 2007, which cost the Finnish phone maker $8.1 billion, Apple paid a few million dollars for Placebase.

Gone are the days you would see Google competing with Microsoft and Mapquest. Now it will the stiff competition between Google and Apple. Will Apple replicate its success just like what they have done in the smartphone wars between the iPhone and Android? Well, only time can tell.


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